|Scorecard:||Australia v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in Australia 2012/13|
DateLine: 21st November 2012
Australia v South Africa
2nd Test Match
After an unlikely drawn affair at Brisbane, Australia and South Africa will be looking to stamp their authority in the three-match series and pursue their respective Test supremacy goals when they lock horns at Adelaide Oval, on Thursday, November 22, 2012.
Much has been said about South Africa's mediocre show in the first Test at the Gabba. Criticism has been heaped from all angles on the bowlers for their lack of penetration, resulting in a pressure situation on their batsmen on the fifth day when only one side, Australia, had the chance to win it. It's all well and good to jump on the bandwagon after the majesty of the Australian first innings, but it seems as though an astonishingly few people remember that just three days previously, the Proteas were in command of the match.
Yes, a quick glance at the scorecard suggests otherwise but we believes much should be attributed to a master-class Australian innings, as opposed to a lacklustre South African bowling display.
Adelaide is a different wicket, one that should offer a more conventional contest.
Still, underestimating the tourists won't be wise as they have time and again shown the ability to bounce back, at least in the longer version. South Africa has not lost an away series since 2006, and though the tides will have to change one-day, they are still in pretty good space.
It requires much more than a rudimentary resolve to achieve what the Aussies did in their first innings at the Gabba, flat wicket or otherwise. After losing the toss and being made to field, spending 150 overs witnessing what England did earlier in the year – the wrath of Amla and Kallis – the Australians were fortunate to skittle the balance of the order for little more than 100 runs in order to offer themselves a decent opportunity of reply which they did, in sublime fashion. Centuries from Ed Cowan and Michael Hussey paled in comparison to the massive 259 not out from captain Michael Clarke; yet another virtuoso innings in a calender year that has been kind to a player who could not be more deserving of his success. Clarke has the perfect temperament in a captain, both ruthless and flexible. He stands as a man alone in leading Australia and asks only that his team trusts in his superior judgement.
That then further sees David Warner opening the innings. The left-hander's aggressive approach has yielded limited success this year, but has been backed by many to get Australia to a positive start. Ricky Ponting also knows his space in the team, and will be looking to emulate his domestic form in order to remain in contention till the summer of next year.
The first innings yielded wickets across the board for the Australian front line four, coming not without their fair share of frustration. Each one bowled over 30 overs for their spoils and were made to work hard for the most part of the South African innings. The second innings saw much aggression, especially from James Pattinson in the much spoken about Graeme Smith incident and although they had the South African's perched precariously, victory was something far from the imagination after the two mammoth first totals. Australia are looking towards the two Mitchells, Starc and Johnson, as possible left-arm inclusions ahead of the second Test, while semi-fit Shane Watson is likely to miss out again.
The Proteas' bowling attack has come under fire for their poor performance in the first Test and, well, the stats don't lie. The truth of the matter is that being the most dominant Test side in recent times, particularly away from home, comes with a certain weight of expectation. The bowlers have extracted the most out of flat, lifeless wickets; it only takes a glance back to the Oval against the English to recognise the kind of restless aggression that was needed in Brisbane. It wasn't forthcoming and Clarke and Co. took full advantage; which is not to deny. What we can say in defence of what is indeed that world's best attack, is that every one of the previous claimants to the throne have had their off days. This includes McGrath, Lee and Warne and even the most destructive foursome in history of Marshall, Holding, Roberts and Clarke. What matters in these kinds of situations in which the opposition bats with aplomb and luck doesn't quite fall the bowler's way, is that damage is limited. We can consider a drawn Test match in one of these situations.
There will however, contrary to popular belief, be concerns about the batting. Centuries from two consistent performers in Amla and Kallis go a long way in masking what was otherwise a paltry performance across the board, Alviro Petersen's 64 an exception. It seems as though the pressures of wicket-keeping may be creeping into certain aspects of AB de Villiers' batting, as he still searches for an elusive half-century since taking the gloves. I believe Jacques Rudolph is the right man for the job at number six but with the injury to JP Duminy, South Africa will be making a replacement. They've alluded that they will be playing leg-spinner Imran Tahir, with Kleinveldt presumably sitting out, and it will be between FAF du Plessis and Dean Elgar as to who takes up the extra batsman and part-time spinner role.
Due to an extremely impressive International record, much is always expected of Graeme Smith. When visiting Australia, the story is no different and he wouldn't be the player he is today without vital runs when his back is to the wall. Having had a slightly lean run of late, a tour would not be complete without a captain's knock from him.
Much of this piece was geared towards cementing South Africa's status as the best test side in the world, but they will have to overcome a huge historical barrier to beat the Australians here. It's not something that the Proteas are strangers to doing or even shy away from. Rewriting history is precisely what put them at the top of the Test standings and will go a long way in seeing them stay there.
A victory for the hosts will keep their no.1 aspiration on track, whereas a defeat will see South Africa retaining their crown. Considering this fact, their respective preparations have been contrasting; Australia had just one optional training session, today, and trained extensively over the past few days.
The weather forecast for Adelaide looks really good, with hot weather predicted for all five days of the Test and temperatures soaring up to 34 degrees Celsius. A few clouds are forecast for the second day, which might help the seamers, but all in all the weather looks great. So unless the earth opens up and swallows both teams, there should be a result.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Rob Quiney, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), Jacques Rudolph, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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